A new study says children who grow up in certain places go on to earn much more than they would if they grew up elsewhere. It ranks Forsyth County as one of the worst counties in the country for income mobility for children in poor families. 


 A study featured in New York Times this week takes a looks at income mobility at the county level across the country. The research was conducted by a pair of Harvard economists, Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren.

In the Triad, the odds of children in poor families rising to another income level are extremely low, especially in Forsyth County.

A child of a poor family there would make 24 percent less at age at 26 than the average community, or about $6,200.

Sherri Lawson Clark studies poverty at Wake Forest University. She says she's not surprised by the high poverty rankings in the Winston-Salem area.

“The neighborhoods in Forsyth County are residentially segregated,” says Lawson Clark. “You also have markers like Highway 52, which is a barrier to both black and white neighborhoods and also wealthier and non-wealthy neighborhoods, which makes it harder for individuals to cross those barriers for economic and education opportunities.”

Dr. Keith G. Debbage, who studies urban issues at UNC Greensboro, says it still comes down to jobs, and poorer communities don't always have access to transportation to find work.

“So much of the American city is automobile dependent that you get into a cycle of geographic poverty that's very hard to break out of,” says Debbage. “I don't think the solution is for a poor person to move into an upwardly mobile location because, yes, that would help but the fact is that that family would struggle with housing costs.”

Location matters in not just where you move but when. Researchers say the age and gender of a child is important.

Children who move at earlier ages are less likely to become single parents, more likely to go to college and earn more money.  It also says the effects of place are sharper for boys than for girls, and for lower-income children than for rich.

Across the country, the researchers say they have found five factors associated with strong upward mobility: less segregation by income and race, lower levels of income inequality, better schools, lower rates of violent crime, and a larger share of two-parent households.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news



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